Searching for serenity


It’s been one of those weeks. I am lucky that I have the Ex-Ex, some very good friends who love me, listen to me, and make me laugh (google tarantula burger and you will see what my BFF has been up to- hearing about that made me guffaw during our walk/therapy session this morning). I spend a great deal of time telling myself that all families have “stuff” and that our “stuff” isn’t as bad as what many are dealing with. I have said before that I am not a particularly religious person (Sorry, Mama Mildred and Best Mother-in-law). I do, however consider myself to be a deeply spiritual person. One friend recommended that I recite the Serenity Prayer over and over to myself. I’ve added it to the Lord is My Shepherd and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. And today, at the BFF’s suggestion, I decided to go over to Duke Gardens for an hour or so.

duke plaque

First, some wise advice–

garden path

Let’s start with the tulips… I love them. In all shapes, sizes, and colors.


Up close and personal

I found a few critters. A very elusive cardinal. Maybe he was just teasing me, flitting from tree to tree.

One of the ponds-

Another sign to respect… but I saw no frogs. And I looked very hard. Is it too early?

frog sign


The azaleas are stunning here right now.

A squirrel… and a bird. Didn’t see the bird until just now!


My Daddy loved pink dogwoods. So do I.

I found a quiet spot in the section devoted to native plants to sit and listen to the wind in the pine trees.


pine trees

And check out the NC plants. No mountain laurel or rhododendrons quite yet.

Yes, the trip to Duke Gardens was just the right recipe for the afternoon.

bird fountain

When I got home, after a stop at Harris Teeter, I decided to try a recipe that I found on a cooking/eating website last week. My boys have always loved rice pudding. I discovered riz au lait a few years ago in France. Kind of the same, but different. In March, I ate it at Odile’s apartment in Paris. I asked her what kind of rice she uses. She told me dessert rice, as if I would know what that is. When I told her that we don’t have that (at least I haven’t found it), she suggested arborio rice, the same one I use to make risotto. Voilà!

coconut rice pudding

Coconut Riz au Lait

from The Novice Chef (Coconut Rice Pudding: Disney Copycat Recipe)

6 servings

1 cup Arborio rice

1-1/4 cups whole milk

13.5 ounce can of coconut milk (not in the dairy section- this is really thick, more like cream)

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

In a large heavy pot, mix the rice, whole milk and coconut milk/cream together. Place over high heat.

When the mixture starts to boil, place the lid on top and reduce to low heat. Cook for 13-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is completely cooked.

While the rice is cooking, place the shredded coconut in a pan and toast it over low heat, stirring constantly.

When the rice is cooked, add the condensed milk, heavy cream and cinnamon. Stir well to combine.

Cook on low heat, until the rice has thickened and the mixture is creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat, stir in most of the shredded coconut, saving some to sprinkle on top. Serve warm or chilled.

Bon appétit to all! I wish you all serenity and a beautiful spring, filled with flowers and critters. Take a picnic and enjoy the outdoors. It helps put life into perspective. Even with all of the yellow dust covering everything at the moment!

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